The Easy Way or The Hard Way: 10 Uni Life Lessons You Should Learn Sooner Rather Than Later

Hi, I’m Courtney and I’m in my second year of law/psychology at QUT. I moved for uni not really knowing what I was in for, having only the American college stereotypes to rely on. I must say, first year is definitely a learning experience. But it was really nothing like what you see on TV. Except for maybe the odd coffee-crazed all-nighter. First year is not just about knuckling down and getting into the rhythm of self-directed study. If anything, that’s the easy part. So here are a few life lessons that every QUT student should know. I had to learn them the hard way, but here’s hoping you can learn them the easy way!

1. The QUT Shuttle bus.
Eventually, inevitably, you will learn of its existence and wonder why you’ve been paying to travel between campuses only to have to walk forever to actually get to your class. I mean, why wouldn’t you trade a few minutes extra spent on a bus for not having to walk up the Mount Everest of stairs or half-way across the city just to get to uni? There will be that moment where you see the bus idling at its stop and you run/awkwardly lope-stumble to catch it before it speeds away. Little do you know, this bus does not follow the general trend of other city buses. It will proceed to sit there for a further ten minutes before you leave. Your efforts will earn you a few smirks from those already on the bus, and will probably make you late. But you will save yourself the walk.

2. Textbooks.
Everyone needs them. Well, mostly, anyway. Yes, sometimes they do change, so it’s often better to wait until your lecturer can recommend the book in person in your first week. Be aware of this wondrous place called the second hand bookshop. There you will find most of the books you need in great condition for a much cheaper price! However, approach with caution if it is close to semester start. Better to save your queue time and guarantee you get the book you’re after by going early!

3. Your wardrobe.
Seriously, wear whatever you want. If you’re one of those people who, like me, on a regular basis open your cupboard and ponder at how you could have such weird taste, this advice is for you. Uni seems to have its own rules of fashion of what is and is not acceptable to wear. If you can call “anything goes” a rule. Adopting this strategy early can save you tonnes of time and afford you lots of extra sleep. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting up and sifting through the washing basket or the suspiciously-unfresh-looking clothes lying on the floor. Guaranteed there will be many a student out there who, like you, has faced a clothing dilemma this morning and who has come out looking better for it.

4. The library.
It is well worth while to get yourself acquainted with the services the library offers early on. There really is a treasure trove of resources at your fingertips. Literally. Much of the library’s content can be accessed online, through databases and online books and even an online chat with a librarian function. But don’t forget to actually check out what there physically is at the library. Find Assignment Minder, Printing and IT Services, as these may be your best friend in a time of crisis. If you dare to venture away from the main levels, you will be dearly rewarded- with computers and powerpoints! Here, you can scope out your preferred study nook which will be of great use come assignment/ exam time.

5. Whining.
This is a pet peeve of mine. Be aware that as fun and appropriate as it seems to gripe loudly on the bus about the shortcomings of uni life, I guarantee it that not everyone else who is sitting around you tolerating it will think so. Whether it be on the phone or in person, no-one really wants to hear it all at top lung. Yes, maybe you do have an assignment due tomorrow. Yes, maybe the tutor was a tad unfair in their marking. Yes, it is unfortunate that last night you were out having the wildest time of your life so that your assignment is still left to be done today. Really? No? Everyone has these problems, EVERYONE. They go hand in hand with uni life, so you better get used to them. (There’s my little gripe out of the way).

6. Procrastination.
Study. It doesn’t do itself. Enough said.

7. Turning up to class.
The sole act of fronting up is not the only important factor of class attendance. Equally important is WHEN you show up. There are several benefits to being early to class. For one, you will be sure that you know where it is. Certain buildings can prove elusive and will require careful consideration to navigate (YES: I’m looking at you E-Block, KG). Also, being early to class also usually gives you the best chances at securing yourself a good seat! If that isn’t enough to inspire you to turn up on time, perhaps the horror of turning up late will be. Luckily, many classrooms are purpose-built for tardiness, particularly lecture theatres. Getting to know where the back door entrance is may just be your best friend.

8. Sleep.
Contrary to popular belief and many valiant attempts, you cannot mortgage sleep. Your teetering pile of assignment work and class readings will not be enough to get you through more than one sleepless night. Even the ever-nearing deadline for your assignments will not negate the need for sleep. Yes, amazingly, this applies even if the due date is tomorrow! Yes, I have seen some very… let’s call them “creative” ways to cheat sleep. From nap schedules, to miracle pep-ups, to the complete cold-turkey with alarms set every hour on the hour to make sure you follow through. Granted some of the low-grade pep-ups are actually effective and would be considered a staple by some. But seriously? Stick to the Red Bull.

9. Personal technology.
In these hallowed halls, you simply cannot earn your ticket to standing out by being in possession of the most recent Apple technology. So if you are just readying yourself to go uni shopping to make sure you have an enviable set up ready for the uni year, think again. It doesn’t matter if you have the sleek new mac-book; the ground-breaking just-released model iPhone; its nifty new apps or even a shirt to match (yes, I have actually seen this – and it wasn’t an employee shirt, either!). Why? Because everyone has them. And I mean EVERYONE. There are other options out there to suit the palate of the non-conformist.

10. Assignment Minder.
Don’t let the first time you find it be when you have an assignment due in five minutes. Also, closing time is 9.45pm.  Not a moment later, either. Remember to have your assignment in order before this time. However, this does mean that, for most assignments, you have until 9.45pm on the day it is due to hand it in. Granted, leaving your assignment to the last minute so you have to work yourself to the bone right up until Assignment Minder is mere seconds from closing is NOT recommended.

Well, there are your top ten tips. I’m sure you’ll agree that your first months of uni are nothing like the depictions in teen dramas. In many ways they’re much better! Hopefully learning these facts of uni life the easy way will make your transition to QUT just that little bit easier. Sure, it’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s something to get you started. Happy adjusting!

8 responses

Post a comment
  1. avatar
    Ash

    Just wanted to correct you in that assignment minder closes early on weekends and public holidays.

    • avatar
      Courtney

      Oh, a handy thing to know! Especially if you need to hand in your assignment early. Luckily, from my experience so far, I haven’t had any due dates on public holidays or weekends. I must have had kind co-ordinators thus far, for which I should be grateful, by the sound of it. Though it is worth noting, too, that on Fridays Assignment Minder closes early, although the specific time can differ between campuses and semesters- everyone: please don’t find that out the hard way! (Though it is pretty mean scheduling an assignment due date on Friday, but I’m sure it happens).

  2. avatar
    Sarah

    Very well put!
    I think too many people have been reading your insights – all of a sudden my favourite secret study nooks (complete with power points) are occupied on a far more regular basis!
    So now I must caution you: if you want a cosy spot that also provides priceless electricity *and* confers warmth, it is a matter of how early you are willing to drag yourself to level 6. Or level 4/5 if you’re in a group. I cannot stress this enough O_o

    • avatar
      Courtney

      I guess the upper level library study spots are just too hard to resist when you know they’re there! Unfortunately, I am very bad at getting to uni early, so it looks like no more study spots for me 🙁 But if you ever do need to study in the library (especially if you need to use a computer because you don’t have the program at home), I’ve found that there are usually plenty spots to be found after 5-6pm. Granted there is, of course, a reason they are free at that time, since no one really likes hanging around so late after class unless they have to. But they are there for the taking. Good luck with re-securing your study spot!

  3. avatar
    Taylor in Australia

    Wow, I love your blog! Thank you for those tips, they’re of great assisstance! I am starting Uni next year and I can’t wait. 😀 Best of luck with everything (:

    • avatar
      Courtney

      These are just a few golden nuggets of wisdom that I thought everyone should have, preferably before coming to uni! I know I was very excited to come to uni as well, but there is so much to find out when you get there! All part of the excitement, I guess. Don’t worry though, I haven’t ruined all the fun for you. There’s no substitute for personal experience when it comes to learning what uni life is all about. Good luck with your studies!

  4. avatar
    alaa shaker

    everything here is amazing!

  5. avatar
    jane

    Such good techniques and reminders! It’s a shame many people do not understand the importance of these things which leads them to their downfall in uni.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *